Leave Raven Alone

At the risk of sounding too much like one of the most annoying people to ever exist on YouTube, I have to stand on my soapbox and rant about something: leave Raven alone.

As many of you know, Raven-Symone is my spirit animal. She is the inspiration for my blog and the way I live my life, with no fucks given and a little bit of pizzazz in my day-to-day. Ever since she’s been on The View, she’s been on the out-of-control side, but I firmly believe that she still has her head on straight. She speaks her mind, hasn’t gotten involved in drugs, alcohol, or disobeying the law, and she’s just electric.

Recently, this viral video of a police officer, or “school resources officer” manhandled a young girl who was repeatedly told to put away her cell phone, literally flipping her upside down, tossing her across the room and cuffing her. On the view, Raven-Symone had this response:

And the Internet exploded, mostly with hate.

Frankly, I think that everyone just needs to calm the eff down. In the above video, Raven says two very true things. First, “there’s no rhyme or reason for him to be doing this type of harm, that’s ridiculous,” and then, “you gotta follow the rules in school.” And for some reason, everyone immediately jumped to the conclusion that Raven was defending the officer for what he did.

But that’s not at all what I heard Raven say.

I heard Raven tell me that two wrongs don’t make a right, which is very true. Everything she said is true, and I think that she has the story completely right: one, excessive force is bad, and two, children and teenagers need to obey the rules of their schools. Having been a teacher and a student, I’ve been on both sides of this debate over cell phone usage in school. I didn’t get a cell phone until seventh grade, and it was one of those old-style Nokia phones which maybe had Znake on it, and during class, I had no reason to use it. Even still, as a college student, I don’t use my phone in class. When I do absentmindedly have it on my desk and it vibrates, I turn fifty shades of embarrassment, even though nobody really cares because it’s college and it’s 2015 and these kinds of things happen. But in high school, what could be that urgent that you need your phone in class, and on top of that, you choose to flout the teacher when they instruct you to put it away? This type of behavior in schools is symptomatic of the “student is always right and can do whatever he/she wants” mentality that our society is doing nothing to control or combat. Above all, high schoolers are by and large minors, and as such, have to listen to the teachers.

As a teacher, I generally do not allow cell phone use in my class. The only time I do is when I have a video clip to show; since my room does not have a projector, I email the link to my students who then watch in on their phones, with me, in class (which is actually kind of fun). When I was an undergrad TA at UMass, one of my students was actually having a conversation on her phone during class, and had to be told several times by us to stop. And it was annoying. Not worth being tackled, but extremely annoying and disrespectful to the rest of the students and the learning environment.

Then, there’s the issue of surveillance. Something tells me that there is much more to the story than we (Raven included) are being fed. For one thing, it is clearly being recorded from multiple angles, meaning other students had their phones out too. That strikes me as having an element of provocation, and a bit of voyeurism on the part of the students. Documentation of these incidents is important, but there is clearly something else going on in the background. As with many stories, there is more to it.

But I’ve gone on long enough. The issue notwithstanding, I firmly believe that what Raven-Symone said was completely appropriate and true. She was commenting on two different issues at the same time, a concept around which many people on the Internet can’t manage to wrap their minds, instead opting to yell at her, demean her, and call her a crazy lady. I wish I could reach through my computer and give Raven a hug, because she speaks the truth, no matter how anyone chooses to interpret it.

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8 thoughts on “Leave Raven Alone

  1. Is it an odd coincidence that I actually sat through an entire episode of “That’s so Raven” tonight? I’d have to say yes, simply because prior to her on air blunder, the one that you so adamantly support, you couldn’t have tied me down and made me watch her. Oh well, just thought I’d share—

  2. I did not have to watch all of this to put my opinion here. When I grew up I went to regular school yet when in Sunday school the nuns beat you with a steel ruler. In elementary and HS if two students got into a fight a child could and would get the equivalence of a wrestling spear, yanked by the hair and thrown up against a wall. A teacher I had in my HS was a former Jets coach and he made the mistake of strangling me in 7th grade and I made it to where he couldn’t walk for a week. Now my parents did not sue the school and the 6 foot 6 300 pound teacher for breaking up a fight. Now I have coached at many schools and have never been a teacher. Most schools do not protect their employees and in some instances even their students. One year in particular I was coaching the indoor track team on the second floor, a floor that was to be empty due to the practice and we had practice 30 minutes after school ended. The only students in the school were athletes and kids in detention. This school did not have a typical set of hallways that went around in a square. Instead it was a U. There were several stairwells and I had 50 kids and an assistant. Every day a girl in detention came up whatever staircase she could and she threw books at the kids running, quite a dangerous thing to do. Immediately it was brought to the principal’s and security team’s attention. She was supposed to be escorted out of the school and have the doors locked and her past throwing of books were surprisingly a non issue. My best athlete, a cinch to make the state meet and win a scholarship was her next victim as security did not do their job. She threw several books and he shattered his ankle in several places and never walked right again. She was hemmed in by the team and my assistant while we waited for security. She pulled a switch blade on me and lunged. Mind you I was a world class athlete and she had no chance of touching me. She tried repeatedly and kept missing. She threw herself at me with over 50 witnesses and caught her cheap chain on my clothes somewhere and it broke. I clearly waited for backup and avoided the truant who is now facing 20 years in jail for murder as I was told. I was brought into the equivalence of a kangaroo court with the principal, her mother and the girl telling a sob story of how she was scared for her life, even with security cameras showing her actions. I had 50 plus witnesses stating a completely different story and I was let go. You are not even allowed to touch a kid and they are aware of this by the time they are less than ten and that they can scream something like stranger danger and get cops called. These bad seeds take advantage. Kids with cell phones use them to cheat and many schools have students turn them in at the beginning of class. Unfortunately we do not get to see what happened before the rent a cop flipped her over but one could suspect the atypical kids response towards authority as they are into their games and barely respect their parents. The teacher obviously tried to get her off of her phone. The guard would have done similar. A simple grab of the phone ends the situation and later they could go to the tape as the saying goes. He obviously took his job too seriously and acted way too aggressively unless there is something else that happened that would cause an authority figure with a past who had to have gone through anger management courses to get another job or keep the one that he had. Kids do not respect authority and it has gotten worse over the years. The last time I coached several years back more than half of the NYC schools had metal detectors installed and a strict turn your cell phone in and a 3 strike policy to being thrown out of school that had to be signed by students and their parents to protect the school. Some schools allow too much from these kids. A kid I would say less than 100 pounds should not be flipped over by a guard. In schools they are not allowed to touch a kid, only police can. Now with crazy things like more and more school shootings these first in line guards are very aggressive but there is a difference between being disrespectful and being a threat. I looked for video from prior to the footage you have and I did not see it, so unless she made some sort of physical threat there is no excuse for his actions. Grabbing a phone away is not that hard and if it is the principal gets called and a call goes out to the parents in front of the student. That would change their attitude without something crazy like this happening.

  3. Just a tad bit off issue, but still ‘within’ the arena. My son(in-law) graduated in June from the California Highway Patrol Academy. When the movement, All Black Lives Matter, was pushed in our face after Ferguson, I responded by writing a blog post, All Lives Matter. I am absolutely sick and tired of hearing the need for us to be, Politically Correct. How about we change that to, Morally Responsible?

    I agree, fully, the officer ‘lost it!’ when he reacted in the manner that he did. The girl, likewise, totally disrespected authority. Granted, her actions ‘pushed buttons’ and as you pointed out, filming began from other cell phones. This instigated and fueled the fire. It still doesn’t make the officers actions any less abusive, but it does give us a perspective of the proverbial car wreck…multiple witnesses, all differently aligned, viewing what they can, from where they are situated….

    What young people need to accept is this: If you have hopes of rising to your greatest potential within the competitive workforce, educate yourself on professional etiquette, otherwise you will fail yourself. At some point in your life you have to accept the fact that you are your greatest instructor.

    Thanks for allowing me to rant, Sweetie.

    • Here’s my issue with the All Lives Matter movement. Yes, that is very true, but Black Lives Matter and Women Matter (and Black Women Matter), because plain and simple, they are the demographics that are currently facing the brunt of society’s rage and are more often than not the innocent ones caught in the crossfire. We need to look out for and protect all of our friends, but especially our black friends and our female friends.

      In short, we need to focus on improving the lives of those who need it most, and then worry about everyone else.

      • Thank you for giving your point-of-view, Jacob. I dearly regard your words. I agree, in certain pockets of the United States there are outright injustices. What I fear most is the tide of anger rising against all officers, of the peace. If you will, wear my shoes for one minute. My Jacob turns 32 in three weeks. He’s owned his own fire protection company, has a degree in Fire Protection from Oklahoma State. He’s a pilot, a gifted musician, mountain climber, but more than all of that, he is my daughter’s husband. Her beloved, and therefore, ours.

        We all need to sit back and do a personal inventory. I so agree with you that our black women are getting the raw end of ALL deals. We need to rethink how we educate, put creative offerings and endeavors BACK into the schools. Vocational training is at the top of my list. We also desperately need mentorships, a partnership between public schools and local businesses. Our focus should be on building up our communities, showing our youth they belong and are an important part of what makes their town(s) a great place. Deliver the pride and we have fostered the dream.

        Drugs. The number one driving force behind the heinous corruption that fills our jail cells. There are too many people, in power, choosing to look the other way or they have no idea what to do or how to do it. We have to draw the line, instead of repeat offenders sitting in jail cells, we must work to rehabilitate and educationally train the nation that sits behind bars. Make drugs legal. Tax the hell out of them.

        I could rant for hours, obviously. Yet I will still come back to my original conclusion: “All lives matter.” Every single one of them.

  4. Nice to have a place to rant here with this post so thank you 🙂 I for one would have gone into the school and met with the class, the officer, principal, teacher and any other parents from the kids in the class to explain my child was in the wrong and when you make wrong choices there are consequences, be it good or bad. She was asked by an authoritative figure to turn over the phone. Do it or suffer the consequence. I would expect an apology from the office for being too aggressive in front of the class and then I would kindly request each parent to use my child as an example and explain to their child if they refuse to follow the authorities, there will be a consequence that they brought on themselves! Ok rant over. Thanks!! Tina

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